Boris Backs the Nanny State, Ditches ‘Libertarian’ Position on Obesity

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the scene of yesterday's London Bridge stabbing attack on November 30, 2019 in London, England. A man and a woman were killed and three seriously injured in a stabbing attack at London Bridge during which the suspect was shot …
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Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he has ditched his “Libertarian” stance on obesity after his bout with the Chinese coronavirus, and will reportedly pursue nanny state-style regulations in a push to get Britons “fitter”.

Following a so-called “Damascene conversion” on the issue of obesity, Mr Johnson and his Conservative government are preparing to introduce a swathe of new regulations, which may include a ban on refills on so-called unhealthy drinks and foods, as well as barring shops from offering two-for-one promotion deals.

The government is also considering legislation that would force restaurants, pubs, and cafes to provide calorie counts on menus, according to The Telegraph.

The move would be a costly imposition on an industry that has already been devastated by the national lockdown. The government has largely prevented businesses from operating in the country for months.

It is also questionable whether the regulation would actually tackle obesity, as a 2011 study in New York City found that calorie counts in restaurants did nothing to reduce the number of calories consumed by diners.

In an interview with Times Radio, Mr Johnson said: “I’m not going to pretend I have original thinking about this normally and pretend that it is easy for politicians to solve.

“Everybody knows that this is a tough one, but I think it’s something we all need to address.

“I think that we certainly must have a care for the health of our population and we will be happier and fitter and more resistant to diseases like COVID if we can tackle obesity.”

Boris Johnson said that in light of his battle with the Chinese coronavirus — which allegedly is more harmful to overweight people — he was ashamed of his past stance on the issue.

“You will find amongst the great anthology of embarrassing former articles that people always drag up… you will find I have taken a very libertarian stance on obesity,” he said.

He went on to say that the purpose of the battle against obesity would be to reduce the cost to the United Kingdom’s socialised healthcare system, the NHS.

“When you look at the numbers, when you look at the pressure on the NHS, compare, I’m afraid, this wonderful country of ours to other European countries, we are significantly fatter than most others – apart from the Maltese for some reason. It is an issue.

“What I’m saying about obesity is I care… I think it matters. I don’t think politicians can treat it as irrelevant. It does matter. It is hugely costly for the NHS,” Johnson claimed.
The prime minister did not go as far as backing a tax on sugar, however, saying that any such proposal would have “to be gone through carefully”.

Mr Johnson’s government has been no stranger to nanny state-style regulations, imposing a ban on menthol tobacco products throughout the country in May, bowing down to restrictions set out by the European Union.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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